I’ll try not to rant about this, but I am tired, absolutely tired of hearing lodge officers talk about wanting the Past Masters to “get out of the way” and let the current officers lead.
Why does hearing this make me cringe?
There are two reasons
- The first is the statement could be true. A lodge Past Master or several could be meddling, complaining, or just well, grumping around because the current leaders are making changes they don’t like.
- The second reason is the Past Masters could be making valid suggestions, offering solid advice, attempting to mentor young leaders or just trying to “whisper wise counsel,” and the current officers are not even listening because they have been taught just to ignore anything a Past Master says.
Both of these situations are detrimental to the long-term health of the lodge. And, both of these situations are occurring because of improperly trained leaders.
The Past Masters who are grumping around, pontifically spewing advice without having established themselves as thoughtful, caring, respected leaders in the first place should shut up. They didn’t earn the respect of being heard because they didn’t understand and still don’t, how effective leaders establish a mentoring relationship that earns respect and trust.
The current officers adopting the “one size fits all” attitude and painting all Past Masters with the same broad brush of meddling, may just miss hearing from that Past Master who did do it right.
What Did the Non-Grumpy Past Master Do Right?
- He understood from the beginning that a title in no way makes you a leader
- He also understood that the only title he needed was the same one everyone else in his lodge has
- He began his leadership journey by continuously communicating and connecting with every lodge brother he possibly could
- When he connected with his Brothers he listened carefully and was intensely curious to learn from them
- These connections allowed him as a leader to understand how he might be of help to them
- When he was asked for help he gave it, careful not to second-guess or meddle but to teach and mentor
- He shared information about himself, even about his shortcomings as a leader
- He let others lead when he knew they would do a better job than he would
He offered praise when due, and when he needed to be critical, he did it with candor and friendship
- He understood as a leader he was being observed and made sure his conduct was consistent with the Masonic values he was asking others to observe
So, at times when a Past Master is a little out of sorts, you know, grumpy, the Brothers should look at him as a Brother who needs their help, not one who needs to be labeled a Grumpy Old Past Master.